tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC March 2, 2017 1:00am-2:01am PST
on the entire question of russia and the united states, but we have been interrupted. if you've been watching, by the two breaking news stories tonight. one, the first one by "the new york times." the second by "the washington post." the first one alleging that officials in the waning days of the obama administration were working to, as we inartfully put it, squirrel away or protect certain intelligence by spreading it around into safe places lest it fall into the wrong hands or disinterested hands of the new incoming administration. second story that breaks in the last hour, in "the washington post", the attorney general spoke device with the russian ambassador during trump's presidential campaign. justice officials say. all of this leads us to bring in our next guest. we are joined tonight by connecticut democratic member of congress jim himes who is second in line among the democrats on the house select committee on
intelligence. in other words, he is among the members of congress who share in the secrets of our country, and one of those looking into russia's involvement in the presidential election. well, first of all, congressman, your reaction to these dual stories in this one area, and how do you think this will affect the conversation tomorrow, the scope, or the extent of your work? >> well, good evening, brian, yes. you know, the breaking story on the fact that the obama administration apparently worked very hard to preserve evidence and the work that had been done by them and the intelligence community at the time is actually a very good thing for the american people. i will tell you, i and many of my former -- my current colleagues were very concerned that with the transition of the administration, particularly if there was the possibility that this would be a difficult political issue for the new administration, or if they had something to hide, they're in charge now.
so we worried significantly that the new administration might actually work to quell or even make disappear, shall we say, evidence that would be important to the american people understanding exactly what happened with the russian hack and whether there were any connections to this new administration. >> the story that brian just mentioned there, this is the story that attorney general sessions spoke twice with russian ambassador during trump's presidential campaign. it was last year it occurred. it occurred before the beginning of this year. but the attribution is justice department officials. so this is coming from inside, i assume, perhaps even political appointments. i don't know. but somebody fairly up there in the top who got this information. what does this do to the role of the attorney general in investigating this whole russian-trump connection? >> well, you know, this is breaking news obviously. so we haven't had a chance to digest it. but the attorney general in his confirmation hearings was very clear with a one-word answer when asked by a senator whether
he had contact with the russians in any way, shape, or form. he said no, period. no condition, no modification. so obviously that turns out to not be accurate there is no reason to believe that jeff sessions in the confirmation hearing was trying to hide something. he may simply have forgotten. but it does mean two things. number one, it adds to the incredible weight of evidence that the administration is not credible on these issues. remember a couple of weeks ago when we heard that michael flynn was talking to the russian ambassador simply to wish him merry christmas. and of course that turns out not to be true. and michael flynn is no longer national security adviser. so this white house has a very, very significant credibility problem. and it's with respect to attorney general sessions, what this means, and again, it's too early to say that he perjured himself or that he meant to do this. but it very clearly indicates that he must now recuse himself just the way the former attorney general recused herself from investigating the clinton e-mails when there was that contact with former president bill clinton.
now it's pretty clear that at a minimum, jeff sessions needs to recuse himself from investigations around the question of russian contact. >> further question about that is why did he bring it up? he wasn't asked directly by senator franken whether he had any conversations with the russians. he was asked what would he do if he learned of any evidence that there had been someone in the campaign who had conversation with the russians. here is the answer again which is so gratuitous. i'm not aware of any of those activity, he added. he added. i have been called a surrogate a time or two in the campaign, and i did not have any communication with the russians. he wasn't even answering a question. he brought it up. and you have to wonder why would he bring up the fact that he didn't have a conversation with any russian if he did? >> that's right. but there was also a question in the confirmation hearing in which he was asked a question very specifically about whether he had any kind of contact with russians. and he answered with a one-word answer which was no period. if you look at this question, have you had any contact in any
way, shape or form with the russians about the campaign. it's quite possible he did, but it wasn't about the campaign. so a one-word answer again doesn't obviously rise to the standard of perjury. >> but why would people at the justice department leak this story. they knew it. it couldn't have been an incidental walking past a guy and how's it going ambassador? there must have been some assistance to the conversation for people around him. i take these attributions serious. justice department officials said. you've got two people, two source story here which is very appropriate to "the washington post" because that was the rule. two sources. so two sources in the justice department. remember, conversations he had with the ambassador. i just find that powerful information. >> well, i mean, this gets to a much larger issue which is, and again, for a member of the intelligence committee charged with the investigation of this issue, i can't tell you how frustrating it is that the communications between a high level sources within the administration are way out in front of our investigation.
so tonight there is another breaking story that ten senior level officials in the administration are reporting that to date there is no credible intelligence that was gathered as a result of the raid that killed that navy s.e.a.l. we are seeing -- and by the way, this is not necessarily a good thing, but we are seeing an awful lot of leaks. and you ask yourself why. because the people who are leaking, whether they're in cia or the department of justice, look, these are people who could be making an awful lot more money anywhere else. and i work with them very closely. they are patriots. they care about the country. and my own belief is when you get the fbi and the cia and the executive branch as a whole coming forward, they are saying to themselves what is happening is that the white house is not being truthful. and look, we have evidence of that in the past. and so i think there are a lot of people who are saying look, the statement that the attorney general made is simply not true. this is of course how mike flynn went down, right? the deputy attorney general said mike flynn has said something to
the vice president about his phone calls with the russian ambassador, which is simply not true. that opens the possibility that russia might therefore seek to blackmail the national security adviser. so you see people throughout the government, and leaks are a problematic thing. but they're raising their hands and saying wait a minute, what we're hearing out of the white house is simply not consistent with the facts that i know. >> congressman, at one of your town hall meetings during the break, someone who was there wrote this about one of your answers. as an answer to a question about demagoguery, he said he studied authoritarians, and it starts with the erosion of the judicial system and the media, as well adds the dispelling of false information. then all it takes is a terrorist attack and he believes that's inevitable, followed by martial law. no one is linking your words here with donald trump. but my question to you, you're obviously speaking to a question as an educated man. do your thoughts go there more often these days?
>> well, brian, i was responding to a lot of people in my town hall who made the very accurate observation that when a leader seeks to cloud the truth, when a leader seeks to make -- disorient you about what is true and what is not true, when a leader seeks to damage the institutions and the civic associations of a country, the media, the judiciary, i mean this goes back to de tocqueville. that is the way that that leader erodes democracy and becomes autocratic. i was also trying to dispel what i heard in town hall meetings, which we're all hearing in town hall meetings, that this administration is fascist and they're inevitably going to wind up being authoritarian. and my point was simply watch for those signs. let's just stop the inflammatory language. but let's be sensitive to the fact that a lot of what is happening here, and let me offer this as a thought. what do the cia, the media and the fbi all have in common? these are people -- these are institutions who imperfect as
though they may be, their essential mission is to get at the truth. and of course the trump administration has gone to war with all of those institutions whose essential mission is to get at the truth. and we as americans, republicans and democrats should just be very, very concerned about that, and very careful about what happens in the future. for example, if there is some sort of terrorist event, or if there is belligerence abroad that creates the atmosphere for this administration to take additional steps to concentrate power or additional steps that might be considered autocratic. >> congressman jim himes, fourth termer from the district of connecticut and democrat on the intelligence committee. thank you, congressman, very much for joining us tonight. >> thank you, brian. >> i appreciate it. over to andrea mitchell. you have some of the response tonight, the pushback from the trump administration on these stories we've been talking about. >> especially on the sessions story. now specifically on that, a spokeswoman for attorney general
sessions said there was absolutely nothing misleading about his answer. last year the senator had over 25 conversations with foreign ambassadors as a senior member of the armed services committee. she lists the country. then she says he was asked during the hearing about communications between russia and the trump campaign. not about meetings he took as a senator and a member of the armed services committee. however, at the same time, adam schiff, who you know is the top democrat on house intelligence says if the reports are accurate that attorney general sessions, a prominent surrogate for donald trump, met with ambassador kislyak during the campaign and failed to disclose that fact during his confirmation, it's essential he recuse himself. this is not even a close call. it is a must. so things are moving apace. >> michael mcfaul, you served admittedly the last democratic president as ambassador to russia. having heard, taken in our conversation tonight and sampled the news breaking on this front,
how would you recommend with your knowledge of washington as it is, how would you recommend this get pulled apart and looked at and investigated? what's the vehicle to your mind? >> i believe it has to be a bipartisan independent commission, not unlike what we had after september 11th. i think it's good news that the house intelligence committee has decide move forward. and i saw the parameters they put out. that's a good sign. but at the end of the day, having it outside of partisan circles, that it can be investigated and really dig down. you know, as i read all these stories, it's fantastic stories that really people are doing incredible work to get more and more news to us all. but it's also unnamed sources. it's all people deep in the intelligence services. and we need those people to go from being leakers to witnesses. we need to know the truth. well need to know the names, for instance, of who met with whom
in europe. i know, you know, that was tell me a lot if i knew the names, let alone the content of those conversations. and another piece of this, lots of senior obama administration officials, some of whom are my close friends know a lot about this story. an independent investigation would give them the opportunity, the commission would give them the opportunity to also investigate and question those people about what they know and what they don't know. >> formeamssador michael mcfaul, thank you very much for becoming -- for being on our broadcast, being part of this conversation tonight, as always. chris matthews, you were talking about sourcing. the ambassador raised the same thing. these anonymous sources can only last so long. >> yeah, and i think it's always fascinating to try to figure out whose giving us the information. and i was taken with this, because -- >> it jumps out. >> the attorney general's office is basically the justice department's heavily laden with
civil servants, of course. but they wouldn't know about his contacts prior to becoming attorney general. the people that would know and would actually offer this up to a report worry be people who had come to the justice department with him. and that's extraordinary. and we're hearing a lot more about political appointees as sources. andrea knows more about this. but political sources, political appointees ratting out, if you want to put it in this vernacular, their own people is pretty extraordinary at this point early in the administration. >> i'm just going to -- we're going to point out that wherever kislyak went, he was being listened to by our counter intelligence officials from the fbi. >> right. >> and so those people would know whom he met with. and that would be another source of information. >> at the fbi. for that -- do you this attribution to justice department officials would cover fbi, or would it be that misleading on purpose? >> i think it would be an accurate description. >> 80 would be accurate, of
course, but it would be misleading. the idea is enforcement officials and counter intelligence officials are something that would give you little indication, i would think? >> unless the people were nervous. >> this sort of puts it back to his people. i do think this whole question of trying to find, and this is something the american government hasn't figured out yet. how do you find within a government that has been elected and appointed through a confirmation process someone extraneous to that who is some sort of arc angle figure that is going to come in and find justice in a better way than somebody who is part of the political process? and we've gone to these extremes, archie cox and people like that and trying to find people, lawrence walsh. inevitably you find out later they do have political connections. archie cox was the top speech writing manager of the whole kennedy campaign. you know, you find out these people are connected politically. >> it's not one person, if i could. i was the executive director of the commission on the prevention of wmd proliferation and terrorism. a horrible long name.
but it australia a child of the 9/11 commission to look at wmd and terrorism and how we could prevent terrorists from getting wmd. you need a bipartisan commission, republicans and democrats selected by the leadership of the house and the senate to do the work. because, honestly, even the senate, the intelligence committee, the select intelligence committee for 9/11, even they were politicized. and number one, they couldn't share everything for intelligence reasons. but number two, they were because of their positions constrained. and the president could always say to the people in his party, why are you guys doing that? if you have a truly independent commission, then paul ryan can't get those phone calls in the middle of the night from president trump saying why are you letting those investigators say that or do that. he can say that's an independent commission. >> the 9/11 commission is the model. >> tremendous burden on any one person. all right. a pause in our conversation. when we come back, we're going to concentrate more on the trump business tie, specifically what
we are back as part of our special broadcast tonight examining this relationship between the circle of trump and the circle of vladimir putin and russia. about those two men specifically, about any relationship between donald trump and vladimir putin, the question has been asked and answered several times. but as you'll see here in this collection, few times have the answers ever matched up. >> what exactly is your relationship with vladimir putin? >> i have no relationship with putin. i have no relationship with putin. >> but if you have a relationship with vladimir putin? >> i do have a relationship. and i can tell you that he's very interested in what we're doing here today. >> i've never spoken to him.
i don't know anything about him other than he will respect me. >> i with us in moscow a couple months ago. you know, i own the miss universe pageant. they treated me so great. putin even sent me a president. beautiful present with a beautiful note. >> i got to know him very well. we were on "60 minutes." >> we did "60 minutes" together. by the way, not together, together. meaning he was probably shot in moscow and i was shot in new york. >> i spoke directly and indirectly with president putin who could not have been nicer. >> i don't know putin. i never met putin. this is not my best friend. >> just some of the questions and answers over the last few years. two weeks ago "the new york times" reported there are four people, trump associates who the fbi is closely examined over potential contacts with russian intelligence officials during the campaign season. all four men have strongly denied improper contact with russian officials. although they aren't telling all
of them the same story. tonight our own chris hayes introduces us to those four, starting with former trump campaign adviser roger stone. >> i'm wondering how you would characterize your relationship to the president? >> a friend. a friend of trump, f-o-t. >> trump associate one, roger stone. long-time gop strategist and self-described dirty trickster with a tattoo of richard nixon on his back and a history of inflammatory and bigoted statements. roger stone is a close ally of conspiracy theorist alex jones and helped arrange trump's 2015 appearance on jones' show. >> well, roger is a good guy. he is a patriot. and believes strongly in that strong nation, a lot of the things that i believe in. >> reporter: stone left trump's campaign last august. the campaign says he was fired. he says he wasn't. though he remains an informal adviser.
after he was named as an fbi target by "the times," he insisted to me he has absolutely nothing to do with russia. >> i have had no contacts from russians or intermediaries for russians. i have no russian clients, no russian communications. >> it's all a complete sham investigation. >> reporter: trump associate two, carter page. page spent three years in russia working as an investment banker for merrill lynch. that's him speaking at a business school in moscow last july. a few months before that speech, trump told "the washington post" that page was part of his foreign policy team. >> we heard you might be announcing your foreign policy advisory team soon. >> do you want i could give you some of the names? carter page, ph.d. >> reporter: now, however, the white house denies that page had a role in the campaign. >> carter page is an individual who the president-elect does not know and was put on notice months ago by the campaign. >> reporter: page, who maintains
he was part of trump's foreign policy team last week denied covert communications with russia, saying claims to the contrary were planted by the president's enemy. >> yes, i know a lot of people. but i know a lot of people in china, in africa, in middle east. >> so you are completely innocent as not charged? >> this is a complete smear campaign. >> we cannot make russia an enemy. >> reporter: trump associate three, michael flynn. the now former national security adviser resigned last month after revelations he had lied to the vice president about his conversations with the russian ambassador to the united states. >> michael flynn, general flynn is a wonderful man. >> reporter: while he admits discussing sanctions with the russian ambassador during the transition, flynn, like the others denies speaking to russian intelligence during the campaign. though he was reportedly paid $40,000 for a speech in moscow in 2015 that included a dinner with vladimir putin.
in honor of the russian state sponsored tv network rt, where he has made numerous appearances. >> i'm not working for any clients right now other than mr. trump. >> trump associate four, paul manafort. his former campaign manager who worked as a consultant for russian-aligned former ukrainian president victor with yanukovych. manafort denies knowingly speaking to russian intelligence, but it's not like these people wear badges that say i'm a russian intelligence officer. >> paul manafort was replaced long before the election took place. >> our friend chris hayes with that reporting to set up this next conversation. with us tonight pulitzer prize winning investigative journalist david cay johnston who has been delving into the trump campaign's financial ties with russia. david, we keep saying this is highly unusual, this is unprecedented for a president at
the six-week mark to have this much interest and investigation. but how much broader in your mind should this go? >> oh, i think we need to thoroughly and openly investigate donald's 30-year involvement with russians and all the money he has received, to channel richard nixon. people have got to know if their president is compromised. and donald has received hundreds of millions of dollars from the russian oligarchs. he just appointed as his commerce secretary wilbur ross, who is the vice-chairman of one of the biggest banks involved in laundering russian money. the other vice-chairman was an appointee of vladimir putin. a disgraced german banker from deutsche bank right after the bank was fined $650 million for russian moneylaundering. all of that was laid out by jim
henry in a report at my news service d.c. report that well ahead of everybody else's reporting on this on television. and there is a more here that we haven't look at. the icelandic bank scandal traces back. trump's soho hotel into the icelandic scandal? there is a lot -- >> hey, i'm sorry. there is a ring of bad weather along the east coast of the united states. this got to us last night as well. and between us and rochester, we have a band of bad weather so bad that it is interfering with our ability to talk to david cay johnston by satellite. we apologize for that. we'll take another break and see if we can reestablish.
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welcome back. so there we were talking with journalist david cay johnston when the weather moved in to rochester, new york. and david, i'm told fitfully we have you back. let me ask you a question about something that will never happen, and maybe along the way it will help to explain the stakes. if i came to your office and said here you go, 20 years of tax returns from donald trump right up to 2016, how much of the questions you raised before we were interrupted by mother nature would be answered?
>> a great deal. we would know where trump is getting money, where he has borrowed money, who he has paid interest to, who his partners are, who the 500 plus business entities he is involved in, what relationships they have. we need to see trump's returns back to the 1990s. the congress can do this under a 1920s law in private. and then we need public hearings about donald's 30 years of involvement with the russians. >> and there is no one to blame but the american people, correct, that we didn't demand of a candidate for president which what has become the modern political standard, and that is you release your tax returns. >> absolutely. and here is the question to ask. why are the republicans so eager to not know what's in the tax returns, as you saw with chairman nunez and others talking about these investigations? as i said before, you know, quoting nixon, people have got to know their president is not a crook.
>> david cay johnston, thank you very much for bearing with us, especially with the bad weather right overhead. david, thank you. >> thank you, brian. >> we've been talking after all about donald trump and vladimir putin. trump has praised vladimir putin, but nbc's chief foreign correspondent richard engel talked to a man who says putin is not worthy of that praise. he is with us again from moscow tonight. richard? >> reporter: well, there is another way of looking at this entire situation, and it is coming up in the conversation that you've been having tonight with all the guests in that it's all about the money. great fortunes have been made in this country, particularly by a small group of individuals around president vladimir putin. and they have proven time and time again they will go to great lengths to protect that money. communism fell hard in russia. and since it did, business here has been profitable, glamorous, and at times deadly.
bill browder from chicago knows that well. he made and lost a lot of money in russia and is openly accusing the russian government of crimes ranging from robbery to murder. >> they have the resource of a mafia organization with the resources of one of the most powerful countries in the world. >> reporter: to understand how and why what he calls the mafia state was born, he says you have to go back to the dying days of the soviet union when everything in russia was suddenly for sale and at a bargain. he moved to moscow and started buying. >> eventually i went from nothing to running the largest investment fund in the country with $4.5 billion invested in their stock market. >> reporter: but the age of grab all you can and carry couldn't last forever. it ended when a former secret agent, vladimir putin was appointed president. browder thought he was the reformer who would save russia from corruption. but pretty soon he says he realized that putin was simply
building a power base by enriching loyal oligarchs while crushing others. >> he was selectively picking off his enemies. >> reporter: and eventually browder's name was add dodd the list. in 2005 he landed at a moscow airport and discovered he wasn't welcome in putin's russia anymore. >> they put me on a plane, deport me back to london and declare me a threat to national security. >> reporter: did they tell you why? >> no. >> reporter: why do you think? >> because i expose corruption. >> reporter: he says his company was soon picked apart. >> i went out and hired the smartest lawyer i could find, a young man named sergei to help me investigate. >> reporter: but when the young lawyer started asking too many questions, he was arrested. >> they put him in cells with no heat, no window panes in december in moscow. so he nearly froze to death. they chained him to a bed and eight riot guards with rubber batons beat him to death. >> reporter: his horrible death struck a chord in washington,
especially among russia hawks like senator john mccain who helped pass the magnitsky act, sanctioning russians who were involved in or profited from the lawyer's death. he showed us neighborhoods where he says russian oligarchs keep their money in high end properties. >> it's bricks and mortar place where bad guys keep their money. >> reporter: now he hopes these so-called safe deposit homes can be seized. browder spends much of his time and money lobbying for sanctions to be placed on russian businesses. he believes the russians will kill to protect their corrupt businesses. do you have any reason to believe that you could be targeted? >> yeah, i've received numerous threats. they do poisoning. they do car crashes. they do fake suicides. what they like to do is kill people and have it be plausibly deniable that there was a killing. >> reporter: russian investigations have concluded
that the lawyer magnitsky was not murdered. and president putin said that one would think that no one died in american prisons. brian? >> of course there is a dichotomy here. the audience in this country and how we view that story you just aired and the audience where you are. where are the russian people on this topic? >> well, the russians know that there is a small circle of oligarchs who are very powerful, who run a lot of businesses, have influence in putin. and there is a different way of looking at this state. if you talk to critics in russia and abroad, they will say you can't think of russia as a normal state, that it is a state that is designed to make money and to protect those fortunes, that it is a state that consumes a kleptocracy has it has been called that also has a foreign policy.
now that is mixed in with national interests. that is mixed in with putin's ambitions as well. so i think russians are fairly ambivalent or fairly confused about how to see their foreign policy. they know there is a powerful group of oligarchs willing to go to great means. but they don't know exactly where the oligarchs' interests end and where this idea that putin wants to expand greater russia begins. >> a lot of history there. wish we had time to delve into it. some of it is in -- not trying to sell magazines, but the current david remnick article in "the new yorker." richard engel, thank you as a always. we also asked masha gessen to be part of the conversation. she is the author of several books on russia, including "the man without a face: the unlikely rise of vladimir putin." masha, it was your article in "the new york times" that shook some of us and got our attention.
the part that really got my attention was the roots of fascism, the things that have to happen, the argument that is made and made again and again and disseminated that is the kind of predicate. can you go into that a little bit? >> so one thing that vladimir putin and donald trump share outside of any conspiracies that may or may not exist is right out there in the open, and that's their attitude toward government, toward democracy and toward the way the countries are constituted. one thing that putin has trafficked in harkens back to the 1920s and '30s, and that's the belief that the world is rotten, that everyone is acting in their craven self-interests, that there is no such thing as right and wrong, there are only winners and losers. and that's very much what we hear trump saying. and, you know, when trump responded to fox interview
question about vladimir putin being a killer by saying, you know, is this country so innocent? that was such an extraordinary expression of the kind of moral equivalence and the belief that the world is rotten that we've never seen a president of this country express. >> let me talk about that or ask you about it in macro term, not a moral term. it's said what putin wants is a world order like we had before world war two, when the big powers, the colonial power, the french, the british, the portuguese, the italians attempting it and the russians and the german, big powers left other big pyres lone. you grab yours, i'll grab mine. we'll let a few new people in the block grab a couple like mussolini can grab some territory. putin really wants that back again. he feels constrained because he is constrained. he would love to gobble up the baltic states again, gobble up in terms of sphere of influence ukraine. but he is constrained by the world order that puts a premium on little countries' rights.
little countries have right in the general assembly and the sense of right and wrong. that true? he wants to go back to preworld war ii rules of engagement, rules of power. >> i would disagree a little bit. i think he wants to go to a post world war ii world order. he wants russia to be one of the two great powers. and he wants russia to have the opportunity to expand. his basic instinct is not even so much to grab back everything that the soviet union has, although that would be a good start, but to be expansionist. he is an imperialist. >> what stands in his way now? >> well, what stands in his way now is the european union. >> right. the new structures. the new structures. >> and the american commitment to nato. >> and he wants to see all that come apart? >> he wants to see it come apart. he wants to sit down with the new american president and divvy up the world again. he has been quite explicit about that. he has offered -- he offered
this to the obama administration. the bargain of basically helping -- cooperating on isis in exchange for being allowed to do what he wants to do in europe. >> masha gessen, on behalf of chris matthews, thank you very much for joining us tonight. that's sobering stuff you deal with. and helping us in our conversation. masha gessen. >> thank you. >> after a break here, we'll be back with two experts on national security and defense to talk about just what it is we're watching going on here. ♪
when i got into my accident i broke almost every bone in both my legs. when i came home from the hospital i needed to be able to recover. tempur-pedic allowed me to do just that. because i don't have the average body type anymore i feel like my tempur-pedic really conforms to my body shape. power is not giving up, it's choosing to thrive. tempur-pedic. this sleep is power. we are back. we've been following these two breaking news stories from the newspaper world. one in "the new york times," one in "the washington post." one about intelligence gathered, known about in the late days of the obama administration, scattered about as not to be discovered or destroyed in the new days of the trump administration. the other about contacts by the
now attorney general jeff sessions, met with the russian envoy twice last year and counters he did not disclose, as "the washington post." and chris you have some reaction to this. >> right. because for months now you and i have covered the interesting battle between elijah cummings, ranking member of the government reform committee in the house and darrell issa who was chair all those months. they were duelling it idealogically and a partisan way back and forth. now they're both on the same front. darrell issa wants an investigation of the whole russian investigation. and tonight elijah cummings is calling for the resignation of the attorney general. there is an interesting sort of watergate whiff to this that republicans are beginning to join with the democrats and calling for investigation, which is very interesting because if you're in a swing district, which has become a swing district for darrell issa, you want to be someone looking for truth. and i think that's always a safe position. calling for an investigation is always the exciting way to say i'm out there for the people.
i want you to have the answers. i want the answers. who doesn't want us to have the answers? that's a position that is much harder to take. keeping secrets. >> so this is how it's playing out politically tonight. we also have a full front of this waiting for our discussion, and that is national security, the military. with us tonight msnbc military analyst retired four-star u.s. army general barry mccaffrey, west point class of '64, combat vietnam, three purple hearts two, silver star, two dscs. he was inducted into the army ranger hall of fame and served as drug czar in the clinton administration. here with us in new york, msnbc terrorism analyst malcolm nance, 35-year veteran of the trade, including naval intelligence, special operations and homeland security, and the author of a very timely new book called "the plot to hack america: how putin's cyberspies and wikileaks tried to steal the 2016 election." gentlemen, welcome to you both. we were talking to david remnick
earlier. we all go back to an era of a cold war with russia. we go back to things like missiles and aircraft carriers and the kind of base fear we grew up with. this is so different now. in a way, lower ticket, lower tech. for lack of a double authentication on google, foreign power can hack into the american election and then some. so how have the tools of the battle changed? how much have they changed, barry? >> let me start off by saying i've spent most of my adult life studying the russians. and it's been a good bet as the soviet union came apart in and out of moscow, kiev, mostly arms control dealings, tremendous admiration for the russian people -- physics, math, ballet, literature, courageous military. they've turned into a criminal oligarchy run by this fellow
putin who is a very clever politician. they are a major threat to their neighbors and to u.s. interests. they are dangerous. they're in syria. they've participated in a modest way in murdering a half million people. crimea, they're active inside ukraine. they're a threat to the baltic states. they're actively trying to break up nato, the cornerstone of u.s. national security. and so the whole question of president trump and his relationship with them is unsettling and somewhat unexplicable. >> so general, is it part nomenclature? do we bear some of the blame? should we have been calling this a form of at least electronic warfare with another state? >> well, i listen to mr. remnick on that point there is no moral equivalence between the agency operating against these
authoritarian dictatorships who are a threat to their neighbors. i don't see any moral equivalence between that and trying to destabilize western europe elections and u.s. elections. so i wouldn't start off with saying so what's the difference? the president's statement "we've got killers too" you know is the most unamerican thing i've ever heard come out of the mouth of a president. we're not like the russians. so i think that's probably the wrong way to get into the question. >> malcolm nance, same questions to you. >> well, for the most part, i think that we need to understand what russia is doing strategically. i mean, they are waging a war not just, you know, cyberwar or political warfare. they're waging a war to damage liberal democracy in its entirety. and what they're doing is they have figured out using hybrid warfare. that's this global perception management game. which is actually didn't hack
just the dnc. it hacked the psyche of the american people. in this election. >> but relatively low cost as weapons go. >> no cost as weapons go. and it just, you know, all you do is use the organs of the state which they've done brilliantly, and now have allies within the united states government and put those allies into office. and by doing that, they now have an axis against democracy. now they can go after france and germany and the netherlands. >> where there happen to be elections coming up. >> where there just happen to be elections. they are conducting hackings. they are conducting this global perception management war. >> okay, allies. fill that out. they all have allies in the u.s. government. how do you know that? do you know that? >> i think idealogically you can just tell by president trump's statements about that's essentially the getting the dissolution of nato, upending 70 years of stability being an
exceptional nation and being a leader in the global democracy movement. but now aligning himself with russia. again, he can't insult -- he can insult everyone, but he can't insult vladimir putin. and to a certain extent it's almost like a guy who is a gambler in debt who won't talk about his bookie. so something has to be done. >> that has to be established. >> it all has to be established. which is why we need an investigation. >> a lot you've given us here. >> absolutely. it's just a theory from the intelligence perspective. >> the president did defend nato last night. >> he did. >> it's really important. we should hold him to it. >> let me ask barry mccaffrey. barry, you fought author this country. are you still struck by the kind of new language on putin, a president who to be fair has bent over backwards to give vladimir putin the benefit of the doubt in virtually every public utterance i can remember on the subject. >> clearly engaging the russians
to include mr. putin in an effort to try and reduce a threat to western europe to u.s. national interests is the correct thing to do. but let me also add, this is not all electronic warfare and covert action and little green men. putin has rebuilt fairly high technology forces and is using them actively against -- the ukraine is self-propelled artillery, ground-to-air missiles as we saw shooting down the dutch airliner. these are active threats to the baltic republics, the poles, they are scared. not just of being on the internet and attacked, but russian military power. so, again, i see the russians as an active national security threat as a major threat to nato which has disarmed itself. the germans came apart. they had 12 divisions, a
powerful conventional army in the center of europe. but it's mostly gone. so putin punching way above his weight class is actually intimidating much of western europe. >> electoral in "der spiegel" right now about the german military along the same lines. malcolm nance, same question. a lot of our guests tonight have separated these two topics. the fact that our election was hacked and the fact that alarmingly nice things are being said from the top of the government about vladimir putin. do you mush them together? >> i believe that there is a connection. and it's virtually no one in the intelligence community could not see this and see that there has to be an arc. there has to be something between point a and point b. it's one thing, as the general said, for you to want to reach out to your opponents. at one point russia was part of nato's partnership for peace. we were coming almost allies to a certain extent.
and then once vladimir putin consolidated his power, he broke that he has a vision, a vision of european global power playing. and he has a vision for the world, which involves you -- him, the russia having to have allies. so by, you know, bringing on, you know, his donald trump and giving him the compliments and working him, you have to understand, this was the spy master in chief of russia. >> yeah. >> he ran human intelligence operations in west germany. he knows how to manipulate people. now he is a spymaster with atomic weapons and unlimited money. he can use his dominance to influence any weapon he wants and he has done it. >> malcolm nance, our thanks. barry mccaffrey, our thanks. another breck for us. our coverage continues.
we're back. in under two minutes we're going to go seamlessly into our next broadcast, which happens to be "the 11th hour." but what a two-hour broadcast it's been. on our watch, these two major newspaper stories have broken. the second was about attorney general jeff sessions and andrea mitchell, from washington we get word that nancy pelosi, minority leader in the house, is calling for sessions to resign? >> to resign. and you've got al franken now saying he was on the committee asking those questions, saying
he should recuse himself. but nancy pelosi now saying he should resign. >> this is based on two contacts with the russians that were heretofore not disclosed. >> and the fact that he was asked about it -- not only not disclosed, he was asked about it and said he had no contact with russians. >> again two, newspaper stories have come out and kind of dominated our broadcast tonight. which was all going to be on the topic of things russia any. along the way, we have talked to a number of guests, all of them experts in their field. all of them among our very best correspondents and reporters, from richard engel in moscow here to new york. so our thanks to everyone for taking part in this. obviously, a story that took on new urgency and new currency while we were in the midst of discussing it tonight. and as i said, straight ahead, we will air our regular broadcast for tonight of "the 11th hour" dominated again by the politics coming out of washington, which have been
dominated by this very subject. so our thanks for all and on the other side of this brief interruption, we will begin our next broadcast, a broadcast of "the 11th hour." >> i'm not -- >> right and i guess my point is that you've had the intelligence community look at russia's involvement in the election. you've had the house and the senate both do the same so what i'm trying to ascertain is at what point -- how many people have to say there's nothing there before you realize there's nothing there? >> breaking overnight, attorney general jeff sessions is coming under fire over new questions about his contact with the russian ambassador before the election. and now top democrats are demanding he resign. >> plus, winter storms, den